The Natural World |The man who grew a forest with his bare hands
1 Floom Magazine Writer Profile James Darton 1


James Darton

Contributing Editor

It’s World Environment Day on June 5th and with that in mind we couldn’t help but draw attention to this heartwarming tale - one we came across completely by chance in the form of a three year old article from The Times Of India.

Jadav Payeng grew up in the Assam region of India, his home set against a backdrop of arid, desert-like terrain. As a teenager in 1979, he began planting seeds in an effort to create a refuge for the wildlife he loved so dearly - triggered by a flood that washed a large number of reptiles onto the sandbar. It’s tough to convey just how blindly wonderful Payeng’s affection for the natural world is as effectively as he himself does with this gem of a quote about the oft-reviled lifeforms: “The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms. It was carnage.” He begged the forest department to take action but when they declined to do so, he began planting bamboo. “It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me. Nobody was interested.”

Over three decades of devotion later and Payeng has created a remarkable gift to the world: a sprawling, luscious new jungle ecosystem that he conjured from nothing but his own hard work and love of nature. It truly is an ecosystem as well: 1360 acres of meticulously considered components, bursting with everything it needs to thrive. From insects and birds to rhinos, tigers and elephants - all have found a haven thanks to Payeng’s patiently realised vision.

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